Whether or not the Yankees made the right choice in trading Andrew Miller to the Indians will come down to the overall development of the prospects they received in return.
Former Yankees stopper Andrew Miller was flat out stellar in the ALCS–striking out 14 batters in 7.2 innings of shutout ball against the big bats of the Toronto Blue Jays. Along the way, Miller tied Brad Lidge‘s 2004 record for the most punch outs in LCS history, garnering the prestigious ALCS Most Valuable Player award.
Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, Miller has struck out 21 batters in 11.2 innings while allowing no runs, two walks, and just five hits. In the series-clinching Game 5, Miller went 2.2 innings, his longest outing since being converted to a relief pitcher back in 2012.
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When the Indians acquired Miller on Aug 1, Cleveland fans were split on if their club did the right thing, giving up a sizable haul for a 31-year-old late-inning arm. Regardless of the fact he’s signed at a club controlled $9MM for two more seasons, loyal Tribe supporters had a hard time saying goodbye to the club’s No. 1 prospect Clint Frazier, and No. 5 prospect Justus Sheffield.
Yes, Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen were also sent to the Yankees, but those two were merely throw-ins (although Heller has already seen time at the big league level).
Since his arrival, Miller has shown Cleveland why those in the Bronx fell so deeply in love with him. He’s minus an ego–willing to do whatever it is the manager asks of him to win ball games. They’re simply aren’t many players like that around anymore.
Which is why Frazier, Sheffield, and Heller (to some extent) will need to blossom into the type of productive Major Leaguer’s scouts have touted them as.
This isn’t a detriment to any of the aforementioned blue chip prospects, rather a testament to how clutch Miller has been. Being a highly touted big league hopeful is one thing, but living up to the hype left by a guy who has willed his new team to a World Series is a whole ‘nother thing.
Frazier is the one guy who will make or break this deal for the Yankees. The No. 5 overall draft pick in the 2013 draft, Frazier is the closest thing to a five-tool player the organization has seen in some time.
With raw power, capable of driving the ball to all corners of the park, Frazier has drawn comparisons to Mike Trout because of his aggressive approach, solid speed, and plus arm.
In only 25 games at Triple-A Scranton, Frazier hit .223 with 3 HR, 7 RBI, and 30 strikeouts. While these numbers would suggest a-ways to go before those Trout comparisons come to fruition, Yankees GM Brian Cashman has already stated that Frazier won’t be headed to New York until 2018 at the earliest.
The 31st pick in the 1st round of the 2014 draft, Sheffield hasn’t let his slight frame stop him from being projected as a middle of the rotation mainstay. At 5’10”, Sheffield creates great downward trajectory that enables him to keep the ball in the yard, while reaching the mid 90’s with his moving fastball.
Of the footage I’ve seen, I’d liken Sheffield’s stuff to a young Scott Kazmir. Remember how good he was with the Rays? In 125.1 innings through three different levels of Minor League ball, Sheffield was a solid 10-6, with a 3.09 ERA, and 129 strikeouts.
Very rarely do blockbuster trades work out for all teams involved. Perhaps this one will do just that.
The Indians will open Game 1 of the World Series at home, on the same night LeBron James and company unveil their NBA Championship banner just across the street at Quicken Loans Arena.
Call it fate, call in BelieveLand. Even if the newest model of Titletown, USA is unable to secure its first World Series title since 1948, the Indians should have no regrets about that deadline day swap with the Yankees.
Nor should the Yankees for that matter. While it may hurt to see Miller put up career defining numbers in a different uniform, Yankees fans can take solace in knowing our club may still get the better of the deal. We’ll just have to wait and see–which won’t be easy.
Congratulations, Cleveland. Go out and shock the world!